A coroner’s inquest into the death of a patient who died in a New Brunswick emergency room last summer has been postponed, the province announced Friday.
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The province had just announced the coroner’s inquest into the death of Donald Darrell Mesheau earlier this week. It was originally scheduled for May 29 to June 2 at the University of New Brunswick Law School.
In a release, the province said new information was brought forward that required the investigation into Mesheau’s death to be reopened.
“As per the Coroners Act, an inquest cannot go forward while a death is still being investigated,” said chief coroner Heather Brander in the release. “We understand how difficult this is for Mr. Mesheau’s family and the inquest will be rescheduled as soon possible.
“As this is an active investigation, there will be no further comment.”
New documents show how critical state of New Brunswick health care contributed to ER death
Mesheau died in the waiting room at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital on July 12, 2022.
In July 2022, a witness who was in the ER on the night of Mesheau’s death, told Global News he saw a person who appeared to be in physical discomfort sitting in a wheelchair.
An hour had passed before a nurse emerged to check on that particular patient. That’s when the witness, John Staples, noticed he wasn’t breathing.
“Then three more people came out and they wheeled the individual back and called the code blue and it was confirmed that the individual had passed,” Staples said at the time.
Nurse double assigned
Mesheau’s death prompted a review by the health authority, Horizon Health Network.
During the quality process review, it was determined that “the lack of consistent patient monitoring and the inability to meet standards in the emergency department waiting room decreases the likelihood for early recognition in a patient health decline.”
Emails from Horizon Health Network, later obtained by Global Newsindicated the licensed practical nurse (LPN) assigned to the waiting area was also assigned to the department and “couldn’t commit to the regular checks.”
The patient’s death would result in Premier Blaine Higgs replacing then-health minister Dorothy Shephard, and firing the boards of both regional health authorities and Horizon Health Network’s CEO.
In August 2022, a month after the death, the hospital unveiled “wait room monitors” who would commit to checking on patients in the time it takes them to be triaged and to be seen by a physician.
— with files from Global News’ Rebecca Lau and Nathalie Sturgeon
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